Noel Daley had two winners in the qualifiers for two-year-olds at Magical Acres training centre on Wednesday (June 14), then watched returning Dan Patch Award-winning trotter Volume Eight make his first appearance of the season as qualifiers for horses three and older were held over the five-eighths-mile track.
Volume Eight, a three-year-old colt who closed 2022 with a five-race win streak and won seven of nine starts overall, finished second in his qualifier, beaten a neck by Excalibur Bi in 1:56.2. Volume Eight and driver Andy McCarthy sat third in the three-horse field until the final quarter-mile, which they covered in :27.3.
“I was happy with that,” said Daley. “That’s all we were looking to go today, :56 or :57. I’ll probably take him to The Meadowlands for his next qualifier. Then we’ll probably race on July 1 there in the Reynolds [Memorial]. He’ll just stick to The Meadowlands until after the Hambo. That’s the plan.”
The $1 million Hambletonian is Aug. 5 at The Big M, with eliminations slated for July 29. Prior to that, the track hosts the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 15 and Tompkins-Geers on July 22 for three-year-old male trotters.
“I’m probably a week or two away from where I’d like to be with him,” said Daley. “He had a few issues early on, but he seems good now. All things being good, the Hambo will be his fourth start, which is fine. He’s not a big horse, so he doesn’t need a ton of racing beforehand. The Hambo is his first big target.”
Volume Eight, a son of Chapter Seven-Lass A Rope, counted the Kindergarten Classic Series championship and Valley Victory Stakes among his wins last season. He won the Kindergarten by 8-1/4 lengths in 1:52, which tied with filly Special Way for the fastest mile of the season by a two-year-old trotter.
“He’s got quick speed and a good set of lungs, that’s for sure,” said Daley. “The Kindergarten final is the best I’ve ever had a two-year-old go at all. Andy said he could have gone in :50 if he wanted him to, he was shutting him down from the half.”
Daley’s two-year-old winners during the eight qualifiers for the rookies also were trotting colts, Sig Sauer (pictured above) and Crypto Cash.
Sig Sauer (Muscle Hill-Sigilwig) posted the fastest win time in the four events for the freshman trotters, 2:00.4, with McCarthy in the sulky for the gate-to-wire triumph. Sig Sauer was purchased for $200,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and is owned by Harvey Fried, Joe Sbrocco & JAF Racing, Allister Stables and Caviart Farms. He was bred by Southwind Farms.
His family includes Dan Patch Award winner Broadway Schooner, the dam of two-time Dan Patch honouree Broadway Donna and 2022 Hambletonian Oaks winner Fashion Schooner.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Daley. “He’ll be better when he gets to follow. I knew he would probably end up on the front today because it was a short field [with four horses]. But he’s got everything going for him.”
Crypto Cash (International Moni-Kidman Hall) won in 2:03, also with McCarthy. He is owned by Fried, N Daley & Sjoblom Racing, L.A. Express Stable and Lenny Zelin. He was bred by Vieux Carre Farms and sold for $35,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. His family includes Hall of Fame broodmare Amour Angus, the dam of award winners Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Emile Cas El and grandam of 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton.
“He just does everything right,” said Daley.
Linda Toscano also sent out two winners among the freshmen, female pacers Sea Pearl and Sarasota Hanover. Scott Zeron drove both horses, who each won in 1:58.
Sarasota Hanover (Stay Hungry-Surfside Sexy) is owned by Jablonsky Held Stable, Camelot Stable, John Fodera and South Mountain Stables. She was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and purchased for $210,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. She is a full sister to Grand Circuit winner Lyons Surfing, who is a finalist in Saturday’s $1 million North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Her second dam produced Grand Circuit winners Cabana Fever, Summer Side and Wicked Little Minx. Her third dam is multiple Dan Patch Award winner Shes A Great Lady, who is the mother of Dan Patch Award winner Lady MacBeach.
Sea Pearl (American Ideal-Lady Captain) is owned by breeder Brittany Farms. Her family includes Dan Patch and O’Brien awards winner American Jewel as well as millionaire Luck Be Withyou.
Male pacer Hugh Heston won the fastest mile of the day among the two-year-olds, 1:57.4, for trainer Per Engblom and driver Yannick Gingras. Hugh Heston (Heston Blue Chip-Morenci) is owned by Morrison Racing Stables. The colt, from the family of Grand Circuit-winner Roll With JR and O’Brien Award winner Glowing Report, was bred by Best Bet Stables.
The second of the two qualifiers for the rookie male pacers was won by Paula Wellwood-trained Snap Count in 1:59.1 with David Miller driving. Snap Count (Betting Line-Tessa Hanover) was making his second start in a qualifier, having won in 1:59.2 at Harrah’s Philadelphia despite a miscue behind the starting gate on June 6.
He was purchased for $26,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and is owned by Dreamville Stable and Pit Bull Stable. He was bred by Steve Stewart, Julie Nash and Cotton Nash. He is a half-brother to Grand Circuit winner American Mercury and Kentucky Sire Stakes champion Dance Blue.
The morning’s two qualifiers for two-year-old female trotters were won by Summer Shoes, trained and driven by Trond Smedshammer, and Eloise, trained by Ron Coyne Jr. and driven by Miller.
Summer Shoes (Greenshoe-Perfect Summer K) won in 2:03.2. She was purchased for $50,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and is owned by Purple Haze Stables. The filly was bred by Bob Key. Her dam was a winner on the Grand Circuit.
Eloise (Tactical Landing-Tuvalu) won in 2:03.4 for owners Ron Coyne Stables, Blair Corbeil, Richard Carney and Farrell Carney. She was bred by Crawford Farms Racing and sold for $34,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Her family includes Grand Circuit winners Judge Joe and Creme De Cocoa.
The live stream from Wednesday's qualifying session is available below.
(with files from USTA)